Parish President Rick Nowlin was authorized to submit an application for a new 5 year grant for the Parish Head Start Program from the US Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Head Start at the Sept. 17 Parish Council meeting. *
Natchitoches Parish has run Natchitoches and De Soto Parish Head Start Centers in the past. However, after the meeting, it came to Nowlin’s attention that the grant opportunity was reconstructed to include six parishes including: Natchitoches, De Soto, Bienville, Jackson, Red River, and Winn.
Grantees are allowed to apply for one, several, or all of the parishes included in the grant. Khari Garvin, senior director of Head Start programs for Save the Children has expressed an interest in applying to run all six parishes listed in the grant. Garvin has been affiliated with Head Start since 1999. He visited Natchitoches Monday, Oct. 8 to tour some of the Head Start facilities. He has a meeting scheduled with Nowlin on Oct. 9.
Nowlin feels that this outside interest to run Head Start Centers in the area is a viable alternative. Natchitoches Parish will apply to run Natchitoches and De Soto centers as it has in the past, but can’t apply to run all six parishes.
If an outside source is awarded the grant to run all six parishes, the impact on Natchitoches Parish would be minimal, according to Nowlin. Currently, the local match the Parish puts up is $500,000 a year, which is mostly taken up by facilities, with the rest consisting of in-kind services from maintenance to the treasurer and so on.
Nowlin will update Council members on this new development at the next Parish Council meeting on Oct. 15. After the September meeting one Council member contested the vote of another, so Nowlin is waiting to receive an opinion on the matter. If the vote is found to be illegal, it would negate the approval of the grant application. However, with the Head Start grant deadline (Nov. 26) approaching, Nowlin said they will complete the application to be prepared for either outcome from the contentment of the vote. *
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